China's economy grew 6.9 percent in 2017, ending the year on a positive note as official figures topped the government target of around 6.5 percent, the country's statistics bureau said on Thursday.
The growth came despite widespread concerns in the last year about financial risks in the East Asian giant amid a government-led economic restructuring.
"It is true that there is a part of the economy — the old economy, heavy industries, property-linked (sectors) — which is slowing deliberately. But there are other parts, the new economy which includes services...(and) includes parts of the manufacturing sector, high tech (industries) which are showing strength and that seems to be persisting in this data," said Duncan Wrigley, chief strategist at Everbright Sun Hung Kai.
The 2017 data represented an improvement over the prior year: China's final GDP figure for 2016 was 6.7 percent, which was the lowest in 26 years.
For 2017's fourth quarter, GDP growth was 6.8 percent. That topped analysts' forecast for 6.7 percent growth in the quarter from the same period a year ago, according to a poll of economists by Reuters.
Beijing's official full-year GDP target for 2017 had been "around 6.5 percent," but there was already an upside surprise expected as the country repeatedly posted robust economic data in part due to a global recovery.
Looking ahead, economists polled by Reuters predicted China's economic growth would slow to 6.5 percent in 2018.
The Chinese economy is going through a phase of "creative destruction" as lively new economy sectors like e-commerce and online financial services coexist with still-dominant old economy sectors, said Chi Lo, BNP Paribas Investment Partners economist for Greater China.
However, growth in the old economy still outpaces in the new economy, so "when you mix the two together, there is an inherent drag on growth," Chi told CNBC.
"The power of creation is not yet strong enough to overwhelm the power of destruction in the economy, but the transition is structurally positive," he added.